CHANCELLOR George Osborne makes much of the endorsement given to his Budget by an independent quango he set up to monitor Treasury number fudging, the Office of Budget Responsibility.

“These days the direct costing the Treasury applies to every Budget measure is independently assessed and certified by the OBR,” he yesterday declared pointedly to shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who in his days at the Treasury never had to contend with an independent watchdog vetting his financial plans.

Of particular note was the OBR’s endorsement of a curious Laffer curve (named after the economist Arthur Laffer) produced by HM Revenue & Customs, which is answerable to the Treasury, that shows the optimal top rate of tax to be precisely what Osborne has cut it to – 45 per cent.

The Treasury’s brand new head of spending Sharon White (pictured) will doubtless be pleased to have the analysis in her first budget endorsed by this arms’ length, vigorously independent body. But luckily she won’t have to bother sending them a thank you card in the post. She can simply wait to express her gratitude until she gets home – because the OBR is headed up by none other than her husband, Robert Chote. Whoever said this Budget penalises families?